The Brown Sahebs- Book Review








The Raja of Teekra, a dusty and forgotten kingdom near Lucknow, gets lucky when the British Resident visits him but also brings with him a leading revolutionary. The Raja enters India’s struggle for freedom and is rewarded with a berth in the cabinet of free India. He is shocked to see the ministers and officers living and operating like their imperial masters but is suitably rewarded for his silence. As he begins to enjoy the good life of Lutyens’ Delhi, the British capital which India’s freedom fighters abhorred, he faces only one adversary in his plans—his journalist son Pratap. A novel that will blow you away with its depiction of love, passion, intrigue and betrayal.




PLOT:- Strong and riveting, one that has the power to ruffle some feathers even today i.e. nearly seven decades after the British were shown the door and India was declared a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic.The events that unfold post Independence expose many who were associated with the freedom movement and made tall promises. The book while exposing them also gives food for thought regarding the plight of the common man who till this day yearns for a proper roof over his head, clothes to hide his bare body and atleast three square meals a day. It is actually an eye-opener.

The questions that it throws up is: Who is responsible for the sad plight of millions of our countrymen- the Government or the governed? What lead those who lead the Nation to Independence, to abandon their ideals and follow the footsteps of those whom they stood against? What is it that can awaken a Nation’s conscience and inspire it to take up arms against its elected Government? Does speaking for one’s legitimate rights amount to sedition? Is the country so weak that a few individuals with vested interests can hold it and its people to ransom?etc. etc……..

There is deception, there is suspense and there is also subtle romance in the pages of this book but what left me disturbed were certain things attributed to Gandhiji. It showed how a man who lead India to freedom was reduced to just a name post freedom. How he too conveniently forgot certain promises made during the freedom struggle. At the same time the book lends hope in the form of those few like Pratap the upright journalist, who don’t mind calling a spade a spade even at the expense of risking their own life.

The book is in fact a mirror that reflects the true face of the majority of those in high places who take undue advantage of the faith reposed in them by the gullible Indian. It also highlights the ugly patches in free India’s face. The story also peels off the myth associated with the freedom of the press. It brings to light the sorry state of affairs as far as this pillar of democracy is concerned and exposes it. We get to see how the press too which should disseminate the truth and keep the people abreast with the happenings around them, shape public opinion on matters of importance and play a vital role in nation building, is vulnerable to corruption. It too can be bought by throwing a few crumbs in the form plum posts, government advertisements, subsidized newsprint, etc.

LANGUAGE:- Simple and devoid of irritating jargon

CLIMAX:- Brilliant. It’s akin to the icing on the cake.


CHARACTERIZATION:- Definitely not the strong point as far as this book is concerned. The characters are powerful and could have contributed further to the book in terms of value addition if they were more well- developed.

PACE :- Slow at first. Picked up only in the latter half.

STYLE:- The flow of the story is not smooth and free-flowing. There are places where one feels confused or wishes to take a break.



” … Gandhi said that unless one loses fear one cannot achieve one’s goals. ”

The interview Pratap has with Gandhiji where they discuss about the Congress party and Gandhiji’s thinking regarding its continuance is thought provoking and relevant to this day. One particular quote is about vote bank politics. It goes thus : “…There is so much corruption that it frightens me. Everybody wants to carry so many votes in his pockets because votes give power.”



A book that pinpoints the reasons for India’s failure to take- off at the pace it was expected, even after so many years of independence, this is definitely an interesting read, one that should be read by both those who govern and the governed. I’ll give this saga of betrayal and broken promises a 3 on a scale of 5.




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About the Author 
born in Lucknow, India, where his novel, The Brown Saheb’s first part is set, and brought up in different parts of India Anupam went to a boarding school near Delhi, the Motilal Nehru School of Sports, Rai, where he played cricket but earned his college colours at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, in cross-country running. He studied English literature (BA Hons and MA), won the college annual poetry prize while pursuing his MA, and being sure his vocation was writing and journalism, became a journalist with The Times of India in 1993. In 1999, he was awarded the British Chevening scholarship by the British government.In 1999, he left journalism to work with the United Nations Population Fund in India in communications. Subsequently, Anupam worked with Oxfam India Society, Unicef and other development agencies. The Brown Sahebs is his debut novel and tells the story of India not taking off its colonial clothing even as it became a democracy.

Anupam is married to Radhika Srivastava, and they have two children who figure in his children’s novel, A Family Secret.
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This is not a paid review. I was provided a copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.


I’d like to have your views on the book and the review. Do leave them here in the comment box below.




2 responses »

  1. How did a nation born on the foundations of idealism and high moral values flounder after attaining independence? This is a theme which has exercised the minds of many well-meaning Indians including the author of the book and there is no one answer to the question. In that sense, the book is a welcome addition to earlier works by other authors. The review by Ms. Geeta Nair is balanced and objective.


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